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NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY

1680 – 1800
Between 1683 and 1684, William Penn sold over 4,200 acres in Roxborough to eleven individuals, whose interest in the area was purely speculative. Originally referred to as Manatawna, the name was eventually changed Roxborough in 1707.

Within fifty years, the first eleven parcels were divided and resold to at least forty people. This second set of sales was more permanent. It included the Leverings and the Rittenhouses, two influential families that would establish themselves in Roxborough and influence the development of the area.

Roxborough was considered a prime location for farming and milling and the first mill was built in 1682 along the Wissahickon. The land was dominated by the growth of mills and farms. The early population of Roxborough was mostly Germans who would eventually migrate to the “Dutch Country”.

The first thoroughfare through Roxborough was Ridge Road, constructed in 1706. By the 1730s, Ridge Road was called “The Great Road from Philadelphia to Reading.” Not long after, passenger stagecoaches were operated between the points and many inns were built along the road. The first hotel, the Levering Hotel, was built in 1793. The Ridge Turnpike Company was founded to improve the road and it was eventually paved in 1811.

1800 – 1900
With a small increase in population, Roxborough residents started to benefit from the amenities of more organized local services such as a fire company and post services.

1900 – 2000
While nineteenth-century owners were typically individuals or family estates, this shifted in the twentieth century, when large tracts were generally owned by large land-holding companies. In the early twentieth century, industry in Roxborough was almost non-existent with the exception of the large Riverside Mills complex.

During the 1930s, over fifty percent of the land in Roxborough remained in agricultural use. As this land became heavily developed with residential properties, a large portion of land west of Ridge Avenue was given to create the Schuylkill Valley Nature Center (now the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education) in the mid-1960s.

2000 – Present
Today, communities within the original boundaries of Roxborough Township are thriving with culture, art and natural beauty. Building owners and local historians are placing historic buildings on the local register of historic places as well as the National Register.

Central Roxborough is predominately a residential community with an assorted array of restaurants, shops as well as educational and medical institutions. The population today remains socially and economically diverse and includes students, families and single individuals.

Resources

Roxborough CDC
Central Roxborough Civic Association